Protest Post Mortem or Why You Can’t Trust All Blogs All The Time

As I said earlier this week, rather than just “blog away” about issues, sometimes I like to actually do something somewhat tangible, so I spent Tuesday with all sorts of snarky signs in front of Gov. Doofinator’s latest special-interest fundraiser.
While I can’t claim credit for the event’s a success or failure based on my presence, it was nice to spend a nice sunny day outdoors, and to see for myself what was really going on.
The news media tends to make these things out as “union” events, but they’re really not – I was rather surprised at the number of Ordinary People who showed up, not for some massive Agenda of the Left, but because they were sick and tired of politicians who lie and take lots of special interest cash, without any benefit to the average citizen.
As rallies go, it was loud, but relatively peaceful. If you look closely at the video footage from KRON you might catch a glimpse of the snarkiest of signs, the one I made for a protest in front of the GAP’s San Francisco headquarters (calling attention to the big donations the company has made to the Governor’s campaigns), that labeled the Governor the “Doofinator.” [Insert rolling eyes here.]
I had a bet wtih one of my firends at the event that my inimitably goofy sign would make all three local network affiliates for the news because it was so dopey, and it did!) You can also see some political commentary from retired political consultant and local philanthropist Clint Reilly commenting on the situation as well at KRON.
Rallies, protest, and direct action these days usually don’t do a lot to swing The Masses to any one side, nor do they tend to convince the people on the inside to change their mind. However, when it comes to Gov. Doofinator they’re more effective than people realize.
That’s because this Governor is not committed to the Republican Party, any basic set of ideals, or other politicans. He is only committed to the idea of being popular. Any time that popularity takes a hit, as it has done recently, and he’ll quickly drop an idea or sell out a friend to restore said popularity.
That’s why, after taking multiple hits on his ill-thought out scheme to take away teh pensions and death benefits for police and firefighters, he abandoned his much ballyhooed reform efforts and gave up, rather than risk having some unhappy fans out there.
So for those well-heeled kids spending their fun money on the Doofinator’s signature gathering machine, all I can say is, you may want to rethink how you spend your money. A new popularity poll can sink that wacky initiative you’re trying to promote.
This is not the first time a little heat has made the Governor abandon a policy proposal – we only have to look back at the Great Puppy and Kitten Revolt of 2004, which always astonished me.
For someone who loves to hurl insults, taunts, and bad jokes, he sure can’t take a little criticism. But I suppose that’s what happens to someone who’s spent a career working on being popular all the time. It gets to you after a while.
There was a lot of coverage of this particular protest/event/whatever in local papers, television, and the wire services. There was also a lot of noise on blogs. I think it’s interesting how some people in the “blogosphere” (God, I hate that word) really get on a high horse about how they’re somehow “better” than the mainstream press in reporting what “really” happens.
Sometimes, it seems like most political bloggers are loudmouths, so full of themselves they don’t let something like the facts get in the way of a good sounding “messaging exercise.” But I digress. (and yes, if I may paraphrase Sideshow Bob, I see the irony of using a blog to decry blogs. So what.)
However, in this case I’d like to point out two blogs that covered Tuesday’s events and compare and contrast them a little. I found both using Google and picked them at random.
The first is a blog written by a guy in Livermore, CA who attended the rally. He’s posted a nicely detailed account of the day’s events, complete with pictures that more or less synced with what I saw and heard while I was there. No sensationalism, true, but a nice, crowd’s-eye view.
Yes, there were a lot of people, yes it had its goofy moments, and no, there was no riot, no Chicago ’68-style head bashing, no calls for La Revolucion issued to the proletariat. It was interesting to see so many people give up Opening Day and some nice weather in San Francisco to show up and talk to the Governor the only way they’re allowed to, and it was amazing to see so many of our first responders out in force.
He also had a link to another site which had a lot of links to coverage as well. Since it’s Friday, and I don’t feel like re-inventing the wheel, just click over there and see what he’s got.
In contrast, Bob Brigham at the Swing State Project posts a very different account, a tale rife with images of brave clashes with The Man and The System, the People igniting La Revolucion, etc.
It all sounds really nice, but unfortunately, the embellishments start to take on a life of their own and don’t sync with what many other people saw, nor with anything I observed. It’s one of those things that super-liberal people who spend all day behind a computer can get excited about – but also at odds with a lot of what really went on, which ends up being a lot more interesting.
I’ve met Bob before and he is a good guy, well intentioned, and all, and I am sure that in all the excitement it was easy to embellish a little while talking to a friend on a cell phone to “report” the events. But as usual, the ideological embellishments, be they from right or left, detract from the facts, which was much more interesting than an attempt to once again Bring Back the Freakin’ 60’s, as some people insist on doing.
Although, in the case of Bob’s blog, I can kind of see what he’s doing – it’s a sort of Hunter S Thompson “reveal the truth in the embellishments” kind of writing, which has its place.
Blogs are fun to write, and occasionally fun to read. At the same time, we need to realize that not all blogs are the stand-alone grassroots efforts they represent themselves to be, nor are they all free of pre-paid opinions, nor do all of them care whether what they write is true or not.
That’s fine – it’s all part of freedom to let everyone have their say – but it’s part of the responsibility of the rest of us to make sure we don’t let ourselves be so insulated from contrary thought we start reading our own personal Pravdas for our respective ideological biases.
PS: I want to take a moment to address a particularly egregious example of lying by a political hack – in this case the total fabrications that spew out of the mouth of the Doofinator’s spokeman, Rob Stutzman.
In several interviews he has repeated the assertion that the only people attending any demonstrations against the governor were “paid” and yet refuses to offer any documentation or proof whatsoever of this charge. It’s a nice way to put a nasty piece of BS out there and let the ideologues on the right have their fun with it, even though it is false.
I took a random sampling of people and most folks were not only unpaid to attend the event – they were giving up their own time and paying their own way to show up, from as far away as Los Angeles County, to tell the Doofinator and his henchmen what they think of his plans. I know I wasn’t paid – I gave up a day of work to help out myself and paid for my own bus fare.
Furthermore, if anyone is “paid” in this initiative scramble, it is the signature gatherers, all hired by professional signature gathering firms, who get a $1-$2 bounty for each signature they gather in front of a grocery store, etc. It’s easy to document this – one only has to look at the financial disclosure reports filed by these commitees to see the names and addresses of professional signature gathering firms employed to get these “grassroots” measures on the ballot.
I am now issuing a formal challenge to Rob Stutzman – prove on paper that the vast majority of protestors at Tuesday’s event were paid, and I’ll buy you a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and have it delivered to your office. If you can’t do so, then you owe me a case of Schlitz. The distributor in Sacramento carries it – I expect to get my delivery soon. Thanks!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

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